I find it hard to get motivated to exercise at the best of times, and you may too. I know that once I’m at the gym (or doing whatever exercise I’m planning to do), I enjoy it. So why do I have to go through that whole rigmarole of huffing and puffing, moaning and groaning, when I know I’m going to do it eventually? Perhaps that’s a part of the whole process. But also, perhaps it’s because exercise is hard work! It’s not easy to always find the time when there’s a myriad of other things that need doing, but looking after ourselves should always be our number one priority. If we don’t look after ourselves, we can’t look after anyone else. But moaning is annoying, so I’m going to do something about it this year.
I’ve thought about how to make my life easier when it comes to exercise, and hopefully it’ll give you guys a little food for thought if you find yourself struggling, especially on these cold, January mornings.
1. Lay your gym kit out the night before/pack in gym bag
I work from home so have the luxury (and it is a luxury) of exercising pretty much whenever I like. Not that I do … but I can. I have a routine of working from 7.30am to 11am and then try and muster up some energy to exercise, instead of watching Jeremy Kyle on catch-up. With that in mind, I’ve started to lay my gym kit out on the banister upstairs the night before, so that once I’ve cooked Dexter breakfast and seen him off to school, and just before I settle down to work properly, I can put my gym clothes on. Same goes for you if you work in an office – pack your gym bag the night before, even if you’re not going to go until after dinner. It just saves the faff of searching for clean kit and then thinking, “Sod it, I’m watching Eastenders instead.” And don’t forget to fill your water bottle up.
2. Jazz up your gym kit
Talking of gym kit, treat yourself to some new gym clothes. I wore an absolutely hideous mish-mash of the only clean gym clothes I had available today, and OK, it didn’t stop me working out, but I didn’t feel particularly confident in them. And yet when I wore my new M&S Sculpt Colour Block leggings last week, I felt great! They held me in (my stomach is my particular problem area), gave me a nice shape and I swear I worked out harder because I looked nice. You’re worth it, both those new trainers!
3. Regularly update your music playlist
If you don’t have a music playlist for exercising, get one. I don’t think I could work out without music, but I do get bored listening to the same thing over and over again. So I spent some time this weekend searching for new music to listen to. It’s pretty eclectic, half of which I’m sure my kids would be mortified about if they knew I was listening to (grime/hip hop stuff mainly) but hey, I’m young at heart and if it gets me moving, it’s all good! I’ve got some dance music from my hay day (I vaguely remember having one in the late 90s!), some Rihanna, Faithless, Chemical Brothers … all sorts.
4. Take progress photos
I took this photo on Saturday night down the pub, (some of you might have seen it on my Instagram.) It was just a snapshot, but when I looked at it the next day, I was really surprised to see how shapely my legs were. Where I’d been avoiding mirrors for months because I’d put weight on, it was a really nice surprise to see that the hard work I was putting in at the gym again was clearly paying off. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember that I used to do a before and after photo every week and as much as I probably won’t be reporting on my weight loss/fitness journey in the same way anymore, progress photos, even if they’re for your own use, are a great way to see how far you’ve come … and give you inspiration to carry on.
5. Variety is the spice of life
Variety is so important when it comes to keeping fit (well, most things really), because you want to (as much as you can) look forward to your exercise of choice, and then you’re much more likely to keep it up then. That’s the plan anyway. Case in point. I’ve been working out at the gym again since just before Christmas, and I enjoy it, but I just had an urge to dance yesterday. I was dancing in the car, in the lounge and thought I have no idea where this burst of energy has come from (perhaps because we’ve now run out of Quality Street) but let’s go with it … so went to Zumba with my best friend. I had to stop going six months ago due to Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot, but it held up OK. My point is, keep it interesting – I’m looking forward to going back to Zumba next week, I thoroughly loved co-leading the first Breeze Network ride of the year on Saturday and the variety of exercise will keep you focused.
ZUMBA FACE OF PAIN
6. Get support
And I don’t just mean in the boob department, although I should say I’m still putting my Panache sports bra through its paces and still loving it (full review HERE), but I mean support from like-minded people. It doesn’t have to be from your loved ones, although of course, that’s ideal, but if, like me, you don’t have a mum or partner say, then look to social media if you can. I’m a member of a small Facebook group of friends who are in a similar position to me – most in our 40s, overweight, fabulous women that just want to find what works for us. We’re all following different paths/eating plans/exercise regimes, but can support each other and advise. If there isn’t already a group like that amongst your friends, create one! Takes 2 minutes to create it (I can help if you need it) and it’s invaluable. There are a whole host of Instagram accounts you could follow too but I’d advise steering clear of the ones you can’t relate to – for me, that’s 20-something, slim, super-fit women. Nothing against them (other than jealousy) but I have nothing in common with them. And if I can’t relate to them, what’s the point in following them? I don’t .. I can’t aspire to be like them, so instead, I follow regular women who weightlift, women who aren’t Photoshopped, who aren’t afraid to show their cellulite and stretch marks. I don’t want to use the phrase ‘real women’, because we’re all real, but women I have things in common with.
So they’re my top tips for success. And success means something different to all of us … please don’t compare yourself to anyway you know or see online. Success to me is just getting out of bed some days, and on other days (like yesterday), it’s smashing out a session at the gym AND going to Zumba. But most importantly, success for me is feeling good in my skin. Feeling strong, healthy, positive and that’s all I want for you too.